FOXBORO -- Nobody knows better than Brock Osweiler what it’s been like for Jimmy Garoppolo to toil quietly in the shadow of a Hall of Famer.
Drafted by the Broncos in 2012, Osweiler backed up Peyton Manning for three full seasons before getting a chance to show a little something in 2015. Osweiler showed plenty. But when Manning came back from injury, Osweiler got the rug pulled out from under him and Osweiler was relegated to watching a physically overmatched Manning still get the Broncos to the Super Bowl on guts and guile.
The sting from getting yanked obviously played into Osweiler’s decision to put one finger in the air this offseason and sign with Houston.
Now, as Osweiler prepares for the Garoppolo-less Patriots on Thursday night, he was asked if he gets what Garoppolo’s gone through behind Tom Brady.
“I know how difficult it is,” he said. “A lot of people think, ‘Oh, playing backup quarterback, that’s the best position in the world.’ What they don’t understand is when we leave the building at 5 o’clock on Wednesday or Thursday, you still need to go home and study and prepare just like you’re the starter and usually you won’t get any reps on Sunday but you have to approach as if you are the starter. To see somebody like Jimmy who’s stayed patient, stayed disciplined, constantly gotten better, absolutely. You’re very happy to see someone have success like that.”
The principals can spend every waking hour talking about how much they admire, support and root for each other. But the reality is, that’s a party line. Quarterback is a job that can’t be shared. And the best of the best didn’t get that way by being anything but cutthroat in the kindest way possible.
I mentioned the video to Osweiler, asking if it’s a hard dance with a legend who knows some snotnose wants his job.
“I think that’s almost every quarterback in the National Football League and really, it’s almost every position,” said Osweiler. “We all know that the NFL is the best of the best and there’s great competition across the board so any time you’re hurt or something like that and another guy gets an opportunity, he’s gonna try to make the most of it. I completely understand why things transpired the way they did. I don’t hold any grudges or anything like that, it makes complete sense to me and there are no hard feelings or anything like that.”
What’s it take to sit, watch and wait?
“One, it takes a lot of patience and two, it takes a lot of discipline,” he said. “I do know what Jimmy’s going through right now, I’ve been in those shoes. I was in those shoes for 3 1/2 years before I really got my opportunity. I say patience because that’s a long time to sit and not play. The discipline comes in (in that) just because you’re not playing, doesn’t mean you don’t work hard.”
Osweiler says it’s clear Garoppolo made good use of his time.
“Just from the way Jimmy’s been playing I can tell he hasn’t wasted a single day. I’m sure he approached it very similarly to how I did: whether he was the backup or playing, I wanted to show up to the building and get better at something every day,” he said. “There was a coach that told me, ‘If you’re not getting better, you’re getting replaced,’ and I heard that very early in my career. I wanted to soak in as much as I could from being around Peyton and then I wanted to make myself a better player on a daily basis.”
Waiting – and being ready – paid off in a $72 million deal for Osweiler. Garoppolo could be headed down the same golden road.